Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 149–159 | Cite as

Changes in phytochemical content and pharmacological activities of three Chlorella strains grown in different nitrogen conditions

  • Adeyemi O. Aremu
  • Nqobile A. Masondo
  • Zoltan Molnár
  • Wendy A. Stirk
  • Vince Ördög
  • Johannes Van Staden


The phytochemical content and biological activity of three Chlorella strains cultured in low (35 mg L−1) or high (700 mg L−1) nitrogen (N) and harvested on days 5 and 10 were evaluated. High N resulted in a higher biomass in Chlorella MACC 438 and MACC 452 while MACC 555 produced a higher biomass in low N. MACC 555 (low N/day 5) had the highest phenolic content, and MACC 438 in low N/day 5 and high N/day 5 accumulated the highest flavonoids and condensed tannins, respectively. Iridoids were most abundant in MACC 452 on low N/day 10. Harvest time had the greatest effect on the phytochemical content with phenolics, flavonoids, and condensed tannins decreasing over time and iridoids increasing in low N and decreasing in high N conditions. Extracts were more active in β-carotene-linoleic acid model compared to 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging assay. Most extracts had good antimicrobial activity. Extracts became less potent over time in the antioxidant, acetylcholinesterase inhibitory (AChE), and antimicrobial assays when growing in low N and more potent in the antioxidant and AChE assays when grown in high N. Thus, phytochemical content and biological activities of the three Chlorella strains were affected by N levels, harvest time, and strain.


Acetylcholinesterase Antimicrobial Antioxidant Chlorophyta Microalgae Natural products 



We appreciate the financial support from the Claude Leon Foundation, University of KwaZulu-Natal and National Research Foundation, South Africa. This work was also supported by the New Széchényi Plan, TÁMOP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV-2012-0003 Microalgal biotechnology in sustainable agriculture.

Author contributions

JVS and VÖ conceived and coordinated the project. WAS, AOA, and VÖ designed the experiment. ZM and VÖ were involved with the cultivation of the Chlorella strains. AOA and NAM conducted the photochemical and biological assays. AOA and WAS drafted the manuscript and all the authors read and approved the final version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adeyemi O. Aremu
    • 1
  • Nqobile A. Masondo
    • 1
  • Zoltan Molnár
    • 2
  • Wendy A. Stirk
    • 1
  • Vince Ördög
    • 1
    • 2
  • Johannes Van Staden
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal PietermaritzburgScottsvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Biology, Faculty of Agricultural and Food ScienceUniversity of West HungaryMosonmagyaróvárHungary

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